Marion Winik

Award-Winning Author, Humorist, and NPR Commentator

University of Baltimore professor Marion Winik is an award-winning columnist, renowned humorist, and winner of the 2019 Towson Prize for Literature. Among her nine books of creative nonfiction are The Big Book of the Dead, First Comes Love and Above Us Only Sky. Her award-winning Bohemian Rhapsody column appears monthly at Baltimore Fishbowl, and her essays have been published in The New York Times Magazine, The Sun, and elsewhere. A board member of the National Book Critics Circle, she writes book reviews for People, Newsday, The Washington Post, and Kirkus Reviews, and hosts The Weekly Reader podcast at WYPR. She was a commentator on NPR for fifteen years and her honors include an NEA Fellowship in Creative Nonfiction and inductee into the Texas Institute of Letters.

Cheryl Strayed praised Winik for “her ability to write about the hardest, darkest subjects with a light, knowing hand.” Known for her hilarious, yet redemptive, takes on topics from parenthood, divorce and dating, to death and loss, to memoir and the writing life, Winik is a sought-after keynote speaker, and has appeared on Today, Politically Incorrect and Oprah. Her latest talk, “Take A Sad Song and Make It Better: Creativity and Healing” inspired by The Baltimore Book of the Dead, shows how writing, music, art, and all forms of creative remembering can help alleviate grief and heal our deepest wounds. Winik has spoken at a variety of venues, including New York’s 92nd St. Y, Brown University, Conde Nast Advertiser’s Retreat, Dallas Arts and Letters Live, multiple Jewish Book Network events, National Midwives Meeting, the Paramount Theatre in Austin, and the Woodstock Writers Festival.

Winik’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” column appears bi-weekly at—it was voted “Best of Baltimore 2012” by Baltimore Magazine. Her essays and articles have been published in The New York Times Magazine, O, Salon, Real Simple, More, The Utne Reader, The Baltimore Sun, to name a few. Her 15 years of commentaries for All Things Considered are collected on the website. Winik’s other books include Telling (Random House); New York Times Notable Book First Comes Love (Random House, 1996); Child magazine’s “Best Parenting Book of the Year” The Lunch-Box Chronicles (Random House); Rules for the Unruly (Simon and Schuster); Above Us Only Sky (Seal Press), The Glen Rock Book of the Dead (Counterpoint), one of More magazine’s “Ten Best Books of 2008,” and Highs in the Low Fifties: How I Stumbled Through the Joys of Single Living (Globe Pequot Press). She has also published two books of poetry, Nonstop and Boycrazy. For many years, she was the Answer Lady advice columnist for Ladies’ Home Journal.

Marion Winik is a graduate of Brown University and the Brooklyn College MFA program. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

 Praise for Marion Winik’s Talks

“Marion Winik wowed the audience at HippoCamp 2021 with her wit and wisdom. She was funny and delightful and real. After our year hiatus, she proved to be an ideal keynote speaker to get our audience of creative nonfiction writers (re)energized to tell and share their stories. The feedback we received about her talk (on our post-conference survey) was overwhelmingly positive.”

— Donna Talarico, founder of Hippocampus Magazine & Books and director of HippoCamp: A Conference for Creative Nonfiction Writers

“How many people can hold captive an audience of 400 high school boys for an hour? Unless you’re a sports hero or a rock star, not many. Marion Winik is neither (or maybe both) yet had our students on the edges of their seats every time she spoke. Whether reading from her work, answering questions from the audience, or just telling stories (which she does like no one else), Marion had our guys asking for more. This is the third time I have invited her to spend a day talking with students about the writing life, and I’m sure there will be a fourth.”

—   David Brown, St. Mark’s School, Dallas, Texas

“Marion Winik was everything we had hoped for and so much more!  Her Rules for the Unruly and advise to our students on living an UNCONVENTIONAL life resonated with the entire audience.  Through the sharing of her life’s experiences and her epiphanies along the way, she sent one of the most profound messages of encouragement, hope, humor, and celebration to our audience.  I was so impressed with Marion’s message that I purchased 30 of her books and have given them all as gifts!  We will absolutely have her back!  Her energy, spirit, and message is food for the soul!”

—Jeanni Winston-Muir, Director, Center for Student Engagement,

Frederick Community College

“Marion was a great asset to our 9th Geneva Writers’ Conference, not only in her excellent workshops and teaching, but throughout the weekend in the constant encouragement and interest she showed to all the participants.”

—Susan Tiberghien, Director Geneva Writers’ Group, Switzerland

“Marion Winik was everything we hoped for in a speaker. She was as funny and entertaining as she was informative. She gave the students a lot to think about and to take with them into their own writing lives.”

—   Patsy Sims, Director, MFA in Creative Nonfiction Program, Goucher College

“Marion Winik is an energetic, mesmerizing speaker who connects with her audience by caring more about them than about herself. She knows all the skills of writing and sends students away charged with new ideas. She is solid, compassionate, uproariously funny and full of surprises. Ten years ago, she was a featured speaker in Carlow’s MFA program, and we continue to profit by her annual visits and contagious spirit.”

—   Ellie Wymard, Ph.D., Director, MFA in Creative Writing, Carlow University

“Marion was terrific – she’s such a great presence: funny, dynamic, authentic, irreverent, and thoroughly heartfelt. Our community loved her.”

—Gerard “Gerry” LaFemina, Director, Frostburg Center for Creative Writing

“Marion Winik is honest and forthright about topics that literary folk like to debate ad nauseum, and her presentation was one of the highlights of our writing residency. Her advice about what you can and can’t write about in memoir contradicted other advice I’ve been given about writing my “truest” story, and it empowered me to return to my stalling project with confidence and renewed vigor. She’s also hilarious, and since her talk I am determined to read everything she’s ever written.”

—   Beth Landau, MFA Candidate in Creative Nonfiction at Goucher College

Praise for Marion Winik’s Work

“Winik has many gifts as a writer, but one I appreciate the most is her ability to write about the hardest, darkest subjects with a light, knowing hand.”

—   Cheryl Strayed, best-selling author of Wild

“Marion Winik has led an unusual and adventurous life, and she writes about it with style and wit. Her essays are mind-blowing – you can’t stop reading them.”

—   Jane Smiley

Highs in the Low Fifties hits the bull’s eye – funny, sharp, poignant, wise. Sometimes, I think Marion Winik is simply selfless enough to live the life that most of us are too scared to try, then generously shares the results. Her latest memoir has her trademark candor and poetic cadences. But there’s something new here, too – happiness. It’s like finding the Rough Planet Guide to Middle-Age.”

—Laura Lippman, author of And When She Was Good

“Highs in the Low Fifties is an intoxicating elixir born of an intellect that longs for chaos: Marion writing love letters to the Boston Strangler, Marion getting a hockey-puck nose job, Marion sitting out front of a bank at the wheel of a getaway car, and Marion heavily bandaged ‘serving the beef bourguignon as the Frito Bandito on Percodan.’  Romantics will gobble the intimate and maniacal sex and dating revelations while witless saps such as myself will eagerly turn one more page and say, my goodness, is this how women really think?  No wonder I’ve been dumped so many times.  Highs in the Low Fifties is like laughing gas at a car accident.  Read it and weep, for if it doesn’t break your heart, it’ll crack you up.”

—   Poe Ballantine

“Politically Incorrect Marion Winik’s ability to see the human condition resonates in every one of us. She’s the clearest communicator I know.”

—   Henry Winkler

“Marion Winik works both sides of the street – light and dark, comedy and tragedy – and she does so with wit, verve, warmth, and hard-won wisdom. Reading [Highs in the Low Fifties] was like sidling up to the best storyteller in your favorite bar.”

—Daniel Smith, author of Monkey Mind

“[Highs in the Low Fifties is] passionate, filled with love, a bit rueful and above all: funny. If this is life in your fifties, bring it on.”

—Miriam Peskowitz, author of The Daring Book for Girls

“Winik’s voice is so true and clear and compassionate, we’re happy to listen to any story she wants to tell.”

—   Los Angeles Times

“Decidedly un-faint-hearted. . . Marion Winik is resilient, hardy, unfazable; this self-described suburban boho wannabe is a frontier woman in disguise.”

—   The New York Times Book Review on First Comes Love

“Winik’s keen sense of humor and lack of self-pity are refreshing. This slender volume reads like a letter from a friend.”

—   People on The Lunch-Box Chronicles

“This is a magical, moving, funny book – as helpful to this almost-40-year-old as it will be for any ‘young’ adult. I love it and keep returning to it for practical guidance. Thank you, Marion!”

—   Ally Sheedy on Rules for the Unruly